Sunday, May 16, 2010

They Collapsed Like Calving Glaciers

Two of the neighbor's massive arbor vitae out of a whole hedge of them like a rampart that sinks us in gloom by 3 on that southern side making the lilacs climb out into the driveway like drowning women collapsed like a calving glaciers under snow this February with a big, nautical creak, a big sigh, and whump. They were 25 feet tall and 25 years old, so their collapse was like an apartment building toppling - its wreckage spilling sparrows and dumping appalled robins and squirrels dashed like birdseed onto the snowy patio over and the trees like masts burying their handsome teak patio furniture and finishing off once and for all our decaying fence.

And that's just the things we see, of course, who knows the millions of spiders and egg sacks tucked under bark whittlings, and hunkered down safe in chestnut duff caught in the crotches, sifting down as the robins rummaged above all summer, safe while the storm roared. And down below! Think of the cicadas! Plump babies in thin husks like creamy shrimp, blind and sucking, nibbling in the dark, in the sweet, glistening, black soil like embryonic kangaroos curled and clinging to those dark roots, sweet, piney juice, relying on them, waiting until it's time, until it's time, until...big, nautical sigh, and whump.

The snow pulled those trees down like wildebeest. It's hard to be sympathetic, though, arbor vitae are sterile as concrete - good for shelter, but they don't fruit like junipers, the lacier, cedary scented indigenous tree they replace in suburban landscapes. Arbor vitae grow fast. They're dense as a rug. They're good for privacy. So down they went, leaving an embarrassing hole. Baring us both. Our dandelions and bare patches. Their impeccable outdoor-room furniture precisely lined up like they're planning to watch a movie. Making us seed and sweep. So completely altering the light dynamic that the old dogwood that had spread flounces and blossoms for years until they flanked her like kidnappers, goons on either side of her, hustling her to the sedan, stuffing her in the trunk, and she was on the wane until they were felled themselves, but something bigger. A snowflake. Now in the sun, she's sprouting leaves from her trunk from her arms. She's gobbling it up. You can practically hear her sucking up the sun. I'm feeding her stinking blood meal, watering it in. This morning the landscapers swarmed hauling two more arbor vitae to fill the hole.

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